What’s the first thing you do if you have a Honda ANF125i motorcycle which, in stock form, is capable of delivering more than 100mpg (42.5km/l) of fuel efficiency? Why, you bung on a full set of streamliner-style bodywork of course, so that fuel-efficiency goes up to 214mpg (91km/l)!
No, seriously, fuel efficiency is important business these days. And the bike you see here – the Quest Velamobile, designed by Allert Jacobs, who’s based in the Netherlands – is just of the many possible ways that motorcycle manufacturers might look at, in the near future, in order to boost their bikes’ fuel efficiency.
‘As a designer and rider of faired recumbent bicycles, I have enjoyed the benefits of reduced air resistance. It makes cycling more energy efficient and allows you to travel faster over greater distances,’ says Jacobs. ‘A recumbent riding position is more comfortable, while adding a fairing can provide weather protection as well as speed. If one can decrease aerodynamic drag and at the same time improve comfort and energy efficiency of a bicycle, imagine what might be possible with a faster vehicle,’ he adds.
Manufacturers like NSU, Gilera, Norton, Moto Guzzi and others experimented with full-enclosed streamliner-type racing bikes before they were outlawed by the FIM in 1957. However, with their fully functional aerodynamics, such motorcycles definitely had a clear advantage in terms of being able to get up to higher top speeds. (In fact, such bikes were banned in the late-1950s because the brakes and tyres of that era couldn’t handle the higher speeds that these bikes were able to attain. And now, streamliner-type fairings may actually make a comeback on battery-powered electric racebikes in the TTXGP and other e-bike racing series…)
But coming back to the 214mpg Quest Velomobile, Jacobs wanted to use the advantages of fully-enclosed bodywork for boosting fuel-efficiency rather than outright performance, which is why he started with the Honda ANF125i that’s fitted with a single-cylinder 125cc four-stroke engine that only makes about nine horsepower.
Also, one limitation that such fully-enclosed streamlined two-wheelers have is that they can be potentially unsafe in very windy conditions. Strong winds can affect the balance of such machines, with potentially disastrous consequences. ‘Such a streamlined two-wheeler cannot be ridden in very windy conditions. I can accept this limitation as I will only use it occasionally,’ says Jacobs of his Velomobile.
For more details on how the Velomobile was built, visit Jacob’s website here